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Politics of the elite? Parliament clears constitutional hurdle on election fees

Parliament has cleared the nomination fees for presidential and parliamentary candidates which had been set at US$20 000 and US$1 000 respectively. The fees, which were gazetted by the Government in Statutory Instrument 144 of 2022, have been challenged in court by a political party leader who argued that they were too high for some candidates.

The Parliamentary Legal Committee yesterday issued a non-adverse report on the statutory instrument, meaning that it did not find any constitutional flaws in it. The ruling was announced by acting Speaker of the National Assembly Cde William Mutomba in the chamber yesterday.

The decision by the PLC followed a directive by the Constitutional Court, which had ordered Parliament to scrutinise the statutory instrument after hearing an application by Nationalists Alliance Party (NAP) leader Devine Mhambi Hove. The court had given Parliament up to Friday to finalise the matter.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said National Assembly was expected to discuss and even vote if the fee was to stand or not today. He said the PLC would table a report on the constitutionality of Statutory Instrument 144 of 2022.

Zimbabwe is set to hold harmonised elections on August 23 while candidates are expected to file their papers at the Nomination Court on June 21. The high nomination fees have raised concerns among civil society groups and opposition parties, who fear that they will exclude many potential candidates and reduce the diversity and competitiveness of the elections.